How to get an Australian work visa

How to get a work visa for Australia

With a stable economy, healthy employment rates and favourable immigration policies, choosing to move Down Under is a no-brainer. Australia also benefits from year-round sunshine and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. So how do you get to work in Australia? Keep reading to discover how to obtain an Australian work visa, including your application costs and requirements.  

Working in Australia

From hospitality to healthcare, there’s an abundance of available jobs in Australia. Fortunately, Australia’s immigration policy means there’s rarely a shortage of people for these roles. That’s because Australia has the world’s eighth-largest expat community. That’s around 7.5 million inhabitants or 30 per cent of the population, originating from countries like:

But how can you join the Australian workforce if you’re from overseas? 

Do you need a visa to work in Australia?

If you have an Australian parent or you’re from New Zealand, you might not even need one. For almost everyone else, the answer is yes. The type of visa or permit depends on many factors, including: 

  • How long you want to stay.
  • Your age and nationality. 
  • If your occupation is in short supply in Australia. 
  • If you’re applying independently or being sponsored. 

For individual visa requirements, use the Department of Home Affairs’ visa explorer. Enter your details and discover all your visa options. 

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Applying for an Australian work visa for skilled workers

If you have a qualification, you’ll probably need a General Skilled Migrant visa. Initially, you’ll need to submit an Expression of Interest (or EOI) form via SkillSelect. Created in 2012, SkillSelect is an online application process that helps match skilled workers with businesses in Australia. After entering your credentials, your application is assessed against the needs of the Australian workforce. 

If your skills are in short supply, you’ll be invited to apply for a Skilled Independent visa. This is a points-tested visa for those without sponsorship from an employer or family member. With this visa, you and your family will have the right to apply for jobs directly and:

However, if there’s no immediate need for roles like yours, you’ll have to take a different route. You’ll be put on a list where employers can approach you whenever there’s an open role. If you’re offered a job, your employer will nominate, i.e. ask, you to apply for one of the following visas:

  • Employer Nomination Scheme visa.
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa.
  • Skilled Nominated visa. 

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Applying for an Australian work visa for unskilled workers

Perhaps unfairly, some jobs are labelled as “unskilled’, giving them somewhat negative associations. But everybody from taxi drivers to caregivers are vital members of society. 

If you’re looking to fulfil roles like these, you may need a First Work and Holiday visa. Valid for one year at a time, this type of visa allows you to work in Australia and can be reissued twice. The only downside is that you need to be between 18 and 30 years old to apply.

What’s the cost of an Australian work visa?

The cost of applying for a work visa depends on the type you want. For instance, if you’re from Greece and applying for a First Work and Holiday visa, it costs AUD 495 (€310). Whereas if you’re a doctor, it’s AUD 4,115 (€2,585) for a permanent Skilled Independent visa

There are instances when applying for a ‘skilled worker visa’ is significantly cheaper. For example, Skilled regional visas are for people who have worked in certain areas of Australia on previous, eligible permits. At only AUD 425 (€267), these are great value if you’re already in the country.

The Department of Home Affairs has an online visa fee calculator, which lets you see an estimated fee structure. Alternatively, there are visa specialists available who can help you apply for a visa for a fee. However, as many of these agencies aren’t certified, only take word-of-mouth recommendations.

What documents do I need for an Australian work permit?

The actual documents you need will vary depending on the visa, but should include:

  • Certified copies of travel documents (and any supporting documents such as marriage certificates, if required).
  • Police record reports showing no relevant convictions for any country you’ve lived in for more than 12 months.
  • Proof of your English language level.
  • Evidence of your qualifications – such as any certificates or professional licenses.

If you’re submitting an EOI, then you’ll be asked to provide details about your employment and educational history and the types of roles you’re keen on. In addition to these documents, you’ll need to complete a declaration of Australian values, stating that you’ll uphold the Australian way of life.

How long does a visa application take?

That depends on the visa. With various types of visas and application methods, times will naturally vary. For a First Work and Holiday visa, there’s usually a four-month processing time. If you’re applying for a Skilled regional visa, it’s between 14-20 months. 

The Department of Home Affairs’ visa explorer can show you which visa you can apply for and their respective processing times. 

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